B. Truth and Reconciliation

The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) in East Timor has been formally established in East Timor since 2002 with seven national commissioners. The mandate of CAVR was recognized in the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste in Article 162. The seven commissioners of CAVR comprised of Aniceto Guterres Lopes, Father Jovito Araujo, Olandina Caeiro, Jacinto Alves, José Estêvâo Soares, Isabel Guterres, and Reverend Agustinho de Vasconselos. The commission was independent from the national government and was set up to investigate and gather information on human rights violations that occurred in East Timor between 25 April, 1974 and 25 October 1999. It had a mandate of a “Community-based Reconciliation Process”. It was scheduled to close in early 2005. By the end of March 2004 it has collected information through hearings in all the districts and sub-districts, facilitated reconciliation and compiled some 7500 statements. The commission also undertook the compilation of statistics documenting East Timorese deaths between 1974 and 1999. The reconciliation aspect of the commission’s work focused on the rebuilding of community relations that have been disrupted, including the reintegration of former militia who committed less serious crimes. Their web site, http://www.easttimor-reconciliation.org/index.htm, and the Judicial System Monitoring Program web site, http://www.jsmp.minihub.org/ provide further information, documents, and updates on on-going work on human rights and judicial issues in East Timor. On 9 March 2005, the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) was formally established between Indonesia and the government of East Timor. In a recent “Justice Update” from the Judicial System Monitoring Program, a number of significant issues were raised in relation to the “Constitutionality of the Commission of Truth and Friendship”. Another related issue that has received much local media attention is the discordance between the national government and local human rights NGOs concerning any possibility for the establishment of an international and an independent UN tribunal (of the Cambodian type) for serious human rights abuses and genocide. A series of acquittals of serious crime offenders ignited the popular demand.[1] International NGOs, such as ETAN, have closely supported local NGOs on this issue.  On 18 May 2005, a United Nations team arrived in Indonesia in order to assess efforts to bring justice to those who were involved in the violence during East Timor’s move to independence (BBC News; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4557841.stm). The UN experts are also examining whether the bilateral agreement of CTF will deliver justice. Readers interested in the human rights judicial issues of East Timor are also recommended to check Nordic Journal of International Law, European Journal of International Law, Peace Research Abstracts, and the web site of the International Peace Academy (http://www.ipacademy.org), Coalition for International Justice (http://www.cij.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewOverview&tribunalID=3), and International Center for Transitional Justice (http://www.ictj.org/) among others.


[1] See for example, Acquittals in East Timor cases spark call for UN tribunal, in

International Herald Tribune; 8/7/2004; Evelyn Rusli


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